Reading time: 5 minutes
The Minimalist Movement
The minimalist movement is nothing new and in a nutshell, promotes an intentional lifestyle where less is more and living a life of minimal consumption leads to more conscious choices, lower spending and better mental health.
One idea behind the minimalist movement is that the trends that encourage people to buy more (and more and more and more) have consequences in all aspects of life. Consequences that often aren’t linked to our spending habits but when looked at, all form a vicious circle of cause and effect.
Minimalism suggests that if we all took a beat, and were more satisfied with living simpler lives, we could avoid, or at least be better mentally equipped to deal with the other challenges that life puts our way.
Most people understand the pressure to spend more and more money on cars, houses, clothes, accessories and alcohol (to give a few examples), which unavoidably means that people have more debt, more stress and are in constant need of more money. Which means they work harder, longer hours for less enjoyment which leads to stress at home, which leads to poor communication, broken relationships, stress eating and the list can go on and on.
Interwoven in that scenario is the impact that a consumeristic culture has on the environment. The bigger message being that simpler living has the power to preserve the environment and works towards sustainable living.
Let me show you how the two are linked.
How the minimalist movement and environmental activism are connected
1.Minimalism reduces demand and promotes conscious consumption, which reduces the need for more natural resources.
This in turn preserves the natural resources the planet already has. This applies to the fashion industry (discussed below), the home and leisure industry as well as the food industries.
The less we need to be happy, the less of our planet needs to be used up, the more time we give our resources time to replenish themselves and the less land we need to acquire from nature reserves, indigenous land and other areas that should be preserved.
When practicing minimalism and buying fewer items, the idea is to purposely buy items that will last a long time. Therefore, you want to buy goods made from better quality materials. If less goods need to be produced then that reduces the need for more resources to be used.
2.Minimalism encourages the use of eco-conscious alternatives .
Conscious consumption goes very well with the idea of sustainable consumption and making swaps in our daily living that are better for the environment.
Whether that’s through supporting the use of organic material in clothing or by buying biodegradable necessities like bamboo toothbrushes and cotton buds, or buying items that don’t take up landfill space regularly like menstrual cups.
3.Minimalism can reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
The fashion industry is currently one of the biggest polluters in the world, second only to oil!
It is known that many fast fashion brands / high street brands compromise on ethical production in order to mass produce goods. This has tremendously detrimental effects on the environment.
Not only are they depleting non-renewable resources and emitting gross amounts of greenhouse gases but the sheer volume of products being pumped out yearly itself should be cause for concern – the global community consumes around 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year.
The danger these items pose doesn’t stop once they enter your house. According to a 2011 study, a single synthetic garment can generate more than 1900 micro plastic fibres in one washing machine cycle. And some of these can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade. Imagine wearing something once or twice and having it ‘go out of style’ or wear out because of poor quality and ending up in a landfill somewhere for that long.
As a minimalist, you desire to buy quality fashion items so that they last many years. This mindset often leads to supporting brands which are smaller and may cost a bit more, but that value quality and ethical production over how many pieces they can mass produce at the cost of their employers and the detrimental effect of their production.
4.Practicing minimalism leads to less waste coming out of your home.
Minimalism is a great supporter of low waste living (or zero waste if you’re going all the way.) Buying less automatically results in less packaging, less disposable items or less ‘trash’ coming out the closet, bathroom or kitchen.
It also encourages the reduced use of single use plastics in every day life, including for example, in the cleaning solutions at home. Less toxic chemicals, more homemade vinegar and orange cleaners that aren’t dangerous to the body or the water it inevitably ends up going through.
This in turn means that less landfill space is being taken up and there are fewer emissions of toxic chemicals from waste into the atmosphere.
5.Owning less means less storage space needed.
Observe: the tiny living trend.
The tiny living trend, a byproduct of the minimalist movement, shares the belief that by owning smaller houses, we need less things and can live simpler lives. The bigger the house, the more you need to fill it up, the more it needs to be cleaned and fixed and that takes money and time and energy – you get the flow.
By owning a smaller house, this saves up on land space and would (hypothetically) mean we could build more houses for the growing population.
It would also means less energy consumption per household as well. There’s a tendency for more green energy in these homes and less consumption of home appliances.
Tiny houses use only a small fraction of the energy that a normal, average-sized house does. The same kinds of results were found comparing the carbon dioxide emissions of a normal house and a tiny one.